Aggressive reduction in cholesterol levels can reduce risk for stroke by 16 percent

NORTH CHICAGO, ILL. (August 10, 2006) According to data from the National Stroke Association, up to 40 percent of patients who have had a stroke will experience a second stroke within five years of the first. An international team of researchers recently completed a study to determine if the cholesterol-lowering drug Lipitor (atorvastatin calcium) would reduce the occurrence of a second stroke. The Stroke Prevention by Aggressive Reduction of Cholesterol Levels (SPARCL) team of investigators, led by Dr. K. Michael Welch, neurologist and President and CEO of Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science, published their research in today's issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

The SPARCL study included 4,731 patients with no history of heart disease who had experienced a stroke or TIA (mini stroke) within six months of study enrollment. The patients had mildly elevated cholesterol levels, and received either 80 mg of Lipitor or a placebo; they were then monitored for an average of five years.

Study findings indicate that patients taking Lipitor experienced a 16-percent reduction in the risk of secondary stroke compared with patients taking a placebo. Lipitor patients also saw a 35-percent reduction in the risk of major coronary events (cardiac death, non-fatal heart attacks, or resuscitated cardiac arrest) compared to the patients taking placebo. "These cardiovascular results are remarkable in a population not known to have had heart disease," said principal investigator, Dr. K. Michael Welch.

The SPARCL study researchers conclude that their results support the initiation of statin (i.e., Lipitor) treatment shortly after a stroke or TIA. "We believe that the findings indicate that Lipitor 80 should become an established part of secondary stroke prevention," said Dr. Welch.

An analysis of the SPARCL data was designed and conducted after the study ended to explore the types of strokes -- ischemic or hemorrhag

Contact: Kathleen Peterson
Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science

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